Will Charles Barkley’s Double-Double Advice for Zion Williamson Change the Pelicans’ Fortunes?

Published 12/09/2023, 6:32 AM EST

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The New Orleans Pelicans and their fans were hyped about the In-Season Tournament Semi-Finals. A win would have given them a shot at the inaugural IST trophy. However, the Pelicans were humbled by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 133-89 blowout. Notably, Zion Williamson had a poor game with 13 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists in 26 minutes. After the game, he admitted that he simply has to be better. Nonetheless, Charles Barkley, who has openly criticized the 23-year-old over the years, had some more complaints with him.

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Zion Williamson came into the NBA with major hype. He was a walking highlight reel during his time in high school and college. However, many felt that he could be injury-prone because of his weight. Despite this, the Pelicans believed in his abilities and drafted him. But now there were rumors that Williamson had been ignoring the organization’s repeated advice to improve his diet and conditioningThis added fuel to the fire. Amidst this, Charles Barkley gave his two cents about the 2x All-Star.

Charles Barkley gave his honest opinion

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Charles Barkley was disappointed Zion Williamson was not at his best on the night the Pelicans needed him the most. He was extremely critical and noted that Williamson should be the best player on the team as the #1 pick but he is not even close to it at the moment behind Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum.

He also said that Zion is not a kid anymore and recounted that he was a rookie when Moses Malone told him that he was overweight and lazy. The Hall of Famer expressed that Williamson has been in the league long enough to realize that he should get back in shape.

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Furthermore, he was dissatisfied with Zion’s rebounding numbers. The Chuckster said, “I’ve told you, I’ve been very disappointed. He’s averaging six rebounds a game. He’s only had two double-doubles all season.” Barkley added, “A big guy that talented should never get less than 10 rebounds. He should be averaging 11-12 rebounds a game. But he doesn’t run the floor at all.”

The 1993 NBA MVP recalled how his grandmother used to call him after every game in which he did not get double-digit rebounds to scrutinize him. Nicknamed The Round Mound of Rebound, Barkley is one of the best rebounders the league has ever seen at 6’6″. So, it is no wonder he expects the same from Williamson, who is also the same height.

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Also, as he recalled Malone’s reality check, he struggled with his weight and diet as well. So, he can relate to what Zion is going through and wants him to put more effort into bettering himself. But he did not stop there.

Charles Barkley’s advice would help

Charles Barkley had a word of advice for the New Orleans Pelicans as well. He stated that the team was using Zion Williamson as a point forward. Barkley feels that the role does not suit him. He noted that the forward should be finishing plays because of his strengths and not starting plays. The 11x NBA All-Star felt Zion’s current role was not helping him.

In November, as the Pelicans struggled, Williamson talked about his role in the team. He stated that he was “taking a backseat” and trying his best to trust the process. This raised a lot of eyebrows. However, Zion is not far behind Brandon Ingram or CJ McCollum as Barkley suggested.

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USA Today via Reuters

Ingram is averaging barely one point and one assist more than his teammate. Also, neither Ingram nor McCollum had a good game against the Lakers. If Zion can be healthy, there is no doubt that he will be the best player on the roster. However, he is indeed far from his best.

Also, it has to be noted that the former #1 pick has never averaged over 7 rebounds per game in any season. So, his lack of rebounds might not be because of his role or the team’s style of play. However, Barkley’s advice would not hurt. Giving top priority to getting back to full fitness and grabbing more rebounds would certainly be a huge help for Zion and the Pelicans. His health could make or break the Pelicans’ season.

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Editorial DisclaimerThe views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of EssentiallySports.

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Written by:

Bagavathi Eswaran

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My strong passion for basketball started when I was ten after watching an NBA commercial on TV. I began tuning into games for inspiration and to learn from the best. So I have been closely following the league for more than a decade now.
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Edited by:

Pragya Vashisth

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